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His house was known to all the vagrant train,
He chid their wanderings, but relieved their pain;
The long—remember’d beggar was his guest,
Whose beard descending swept his aged breast;
The mind spendthrift, now no longer proud,
Claim'd kindred there, and had his claim allow’d ;
The broken soldier, kindly bid to stay,
Sat by his fire, and talk’d the night away;
Wept o'er his wounds, or tales of sorrow done,
Shoulder’d his crutch, and show’d how fields were won.
Pleased with his guests, the good man learn’d to glow,
And quite forgot their vices in their woe;
Careless their merits, or their faults to scan,
His pity gave ere charity began.
Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride,
And e’en his failings lean’d to virtue’s side;
But in his duty prompt at every call,
He watch’d and wept, he pray’d and felt, for all.
And, as a bird each fond endearment tries
To tempt its new-fledged offspring to the skies,
He tried each art, reproved each dull delay,
Allured to brighter worlds, and led the way.
Beside the bed where parting life was laid,
And sorrow, guilt, and pain, by turns dismay’d,
The reverend champion stood. At his control,
Despair and anguish fled the struggling soul;
Comfort came down, the trembling wretch to raise,
And his last faltering accents whisper’d praise.
At church, with meek and unaffected grace,
His looks adorn’d the venerable place;
Truth from his lips prevail’d with double sway,
And fools, who came to scoff, remain’d to pray.
The service pass'd, around the pious man,
With steady zeal, each honest rustick ran;
E’en children follow’d, with endearing wile,
And pluck'd his gown, to share the good man’s smile.
His ready smile a parent's warmth express'd,
Their welfare pleased him, and their cares distress'd:
To them his heart, his love, his griefs were given,
But all his serious thoughts had rest in heaven.
As some tall cliff that lifts its awful form,
Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm,
Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread,
Eternal sunshine settles on its head.
Beside yon straggling fence, that skirts the way
With blossom’d furze, unprofitably gay,
There, in his noisy mansion, skill’d to rule,
The village master taught his little school:
A man severe he was, and stem to view,
I knew him well, and every truant knew;
Well had the boding tremblers learn’d to trace
The day’s disasters in his morning face;
Full well they laugh'd, with counterfeited glee,
At all his jokes, for many ajoke had he;
Full well the busy whisper, circling round,
Convey’d the dismal tidings, when he frown’d:
Yet he was kind; or if severe in aught,
The love he bore to learning was in fault;
The village all declared how much he knew;
’Twas certain he could write, and cipher too;
Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage,
And e’en the story ran, that he could gauge:
In arguing too, the parson own'd his skill,
For e’en though vanquish'd, he could argue still;
While words of learned length, and thundering sound,
Amazed the gazing rusticks, ranged around;
And still they gazed, and Still the wonder grew,
That one small head could carry all he knew.
But pass’d is all his fame. The very spot
Where many a time he triumph’d, is forgot.
Near yonder thorn, that lifts its head on high,
Where once the signpost caught the passing eye,
Low lies that house where nut-brown draughts inspired,
Where grey-beard mirth, and smiling toil retired,
\Vhere village statesmen talk’d, with looks profound,
And news much older than their ale went round.
Imagination fondly Stoops to trace
The parlour splendours of that festive place;
The white-wash'd wall, the nicely sanded floor,
The varnish'd clock that click’d behind the door;